Data Will Keep Us Warm

Internet companies could heat homes with servers

Want to crunch numbers and heat your house? Replace your furnace with a hundred motherboards.

Computer servers generate a lot of heat, and technology companies spend money and energy cooling their data centers. Researchers at UVA and investigators at Microsoft Research suggest using servers to heat homes.

Cabinets full of servers could be installed in the place of a conventional furnace and connected to existing ductwork and fans. In the coldest days of winter, approximately 110 motherboards would heat a house. During warm weather, the servers' heat would need to be vented to the outside, just like a clothes dryer.

The research points out that using the heat rather than investing in giant, energy-greedy cooling systems would be cheaper for technology companies and could, in theory, provide heat to homeowners for free.

"We heard from several people who are already heating their homes with computer systems, which shows that it works," says UVA professor Kamin Whitehouse. "Our contribution is to show that the data furnace also has lower cost and lower energy [use] than a conventional data center."

Winning the Fight Against Poverty?

Study shows success of social safety net programs in Virginia

How well are social safety net programs working in Virginia?

Researchers at UVA's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service have found that the programs are currently lifting a large number of Virginians out of poverty.

"Since 46 percent of Virginia households receive benefits from at least one social safety net program, the current national debate about these programs has great relevance for the economic well-being of the Commonwealth," says Dustin Cable (Engr '09, Batten '10), policy associate at the center and lead author of the study.

An example is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is a particularly important source of income for families with children. "When these programs are added to family resources, poverty rates in Virginia drop to 9.5 percent, compared to the official rate of 10.8 percent, which doesn't include the effects of the EITC," says Cable.

Fender Gender

UVA study shows that women are less safe in automobile accidents

Cars are safer for men than for women.

UVA's Center for Applied Biomechanics found in a study that seat-belted female drivers had a 47 percent higher chance of serious injury in a crash than male drivers in comparable collisions. For moderate injuries, that difference rose to 71 percent.

Until 2011, crash test dummies used in federal government tests were exclusively male. New female crash test dummies that reflect women's smaller body size are being introduced in some test sites.

Cut the Fat

Study reveals another danger linked to poor diet

UVA researcher Marie Billaud and colleagues in the School of Medicine fed mice different diets to analyze the effects on carotid (large) and thoracodorsal (smaller) arteries.

After six weeks, mice on a high-fat diet showed signs of dramatic changes in smaller arteries—they were becoming stiffer and collagen was building on the artery walls. Little change in stiffness was found in the larger arteries.

The implication is that high-fat diets cause damage to blood vessels earlier than previously thought. "This could therefore play a role in the development of hypertension associated with a long-term caloric-enriched diet," the study concludes